[Internet Observer] Observer   [1998]
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Archive: 1999
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Downloading From the Net Is Dangerous?

The National Law Journal posted an article on 14-Dec-1998 that disusses the following:
Well-intentioned companies that download or hyperlink to copyrighted material online may find themselves liable for infringing.
The legal issues concerning the Internet is a growth industry getting ready for a major breakout. Lawyers are probably very happy.
[17-Dec-98, top]

Here is an Interesting Online Magazine

Cybersociology Magazine is a new forum for the discussion of the social scientific study of cyberspace. Every few months, this ezine strives to publish at least two original articles dealing with cyberspace, the Internet, and online communities. Each issue contains book and site reviews.
[12-Dec-98, top]

Shanghai Entrepreneur Tried In China for Sharing Email Addresses

The Chinese government has put 30-year-old Shanghai computer software businessman Lin Hai on trial for "inciting the overthrow of state power" by providing 30,000 e-mail addresses to a U.S. Internet magazine called "Big Reference" published by Chinese dissidents. Chinese authorities closed the four-hour trial for what it said were "national security" reasons, and "persuaded" one member of Lin's legal team not to attend the trial. Lin's wife Xu Hong, who was questioned by the police for six hours, has indicated that Lin's lawyer "said he didn't have a very good feeling -- that things won't be good for Lin and he will probably be found guilty." (Washington Post 5 Dec 98)
[07-Dec-98, top]

Rio Salado Wins Award For Its Website

Rio Salado College received the North America Web Design Award for Best Educational Web Site in Higher Education award. The selection committee used the following eight criteria: navigation, content, design, style, innovation, interaction, efficiency, and flexibility.
[30-Nov-98, top]

Checkout My Audio Files Webpage

While in the process of finding turkey and pig sounds for this page, I came across numerous sound-related websites. I collected some of the more interesting links into an audio files resource webpage.
[28-Nov-98, top]

Library Computers Logged Off

Officials in Loudoun County, Virginia, pulled the plug on library Internet connections Tuesday to avoid a federal judge's order that they ditch Net-filtering software installed on public computers. Article from Wired News.
[26-Nov-98, top]

AOL Buys Netscape

A tech Goliath is born as AOL and Netscape conclude negotiations on a US$4.2 billion merger. The side deal with Sun concerning e-commerce and Java-based Net devices was the last hurdle. See Yahoo! News article for details.
[24-Nov-98, top]

Internet Snafu Leaves Commissioner Red-Faced

A city commissioner in Florida has a last name that contains a reference to a part of the female anatomy. Thinking this reference would lure people to his website, he selected his domain accordingly. The domain name was "stolen" and visitors to his website ended up getting redirected to an adult page. His link has been fixed. Here are more details.

AOL to Purchase Netscape?

AOL and Netscape may merge with AOL taking over Netscape's Netcenter portal website. The deal will also include Sun Microsystems who will take over Netscape's business level "server software." Here is an article from ABCNews.com.

The Frame Spoofing Vulnerability

FSC Internet/SecureXpert Labs has found a new security problem in all popular Web browser programs. The problem enables the author of a nefarious Web site or email message to "spoof" information presented by another website. Demonstrations of this problem are provided at the secureXpert website.

Netscape in the News...

Darn... one of my favorite websites -- NewHoo! -- has been purchased by Netscape. NewHoo! is a search and navigation tool that lets users seek information on the Web. It differs from other Internet directories like Yahoo! Inc. and Excite Inc. because it allows Internet users to volunteer as editors to add new links to Web sites. (Interestingly, NewHoo! has five employees.)

On 18-Nov-98, Netscape's stock ( NSCP) went up 34% on news that AOL (America Online Line) may distribute Netscape's browser to better complete against Microsoft. AOL's contract to bundle Microsoft's Internet Explorer with its service expires Jan. 1. Microsoft is building a web presence that is in direct competition with AOL and this does make AOL happy.


Company to Filter Internet Access for all Tennessee Public Schools

Tennessee, the first state to connect all its public schools to the Internet, also will be the first to centrally filter WWW content on school computers. See Free! The Freedom Forum Online for a detailed article.

Lesson Being Learned From Microsoft Trial: Email Can Hurt

With old email messages playing an important role in the charges and countercharges being leveled in the Microsoft antitrust case, organizations are busy reminding their employees to think before they type (and then always clean up after themselves). One example is the Amazon.com company, which created an event called "Sweep and Keep" to reward employees for purging email messages no longer required for business or legal reasons. This "documentation retention" policy [Orwell, where are you?] was followed by a "documentation creation" policy that said:   "Quite simply put, there are some communications that should not be expressed in written form." 
[NY Times, 11-Nov-98, top]

Hackers Website Hacked

See the CSC MOTD about a hack done at the www.rootshell.com website.

Netscape Can Spy On You

Netscape Communications Corporation's release of Communicator 4.06 contains a new feature,  Smart Browsing , controlled by a new icon labeled  What's Related , a front-end to a service that will recommend sites that are related to the document the user is currently viewing. The implementation of this feature raises a number of potentially serious privacy concerns. Specifically, URLs that are visited while a user browses the web are reported back to a server at Netscape. The logs of this data, when used in conjunction with cookies, could be used to build extensive dossiers of individual web users, even including their names, addresses, and telephone numbers in some cases. Want to read more?

Crackers Attack China on Rights

American crackers have defaced a Web site recently launched by China to provide the official view on the country's human rights record. See article from Wired News for a more complete discussion. I made a copy of the page installed by the hackers.

Newsgroups Matter Most to the Marginalized

Two psychologists at New York University recently monitored participation in 12 Internet newsgroups over a 3-week period. They selected four groups that focus on mainstream interests (such as politics), four that concern "culturally undesirable but conspicuous conditions" (such as obesity), and four that focus on culturally "marginalized but concealable" behavior (homosexuality, illicit drug use, sexual bondage and sexual spanking). Judges who rated the messages posted found that online communities mattered the most to participants in the "marginalized but concealable" groups. Members of these groups posted far more frequently, often after receiving positive feedback, than did members of the other groups.  "This is the sort of work that needs to be done, examining different types of Internet users and different effects of computer use,"  says a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University. Many participants of the marginalized groups said that participation in the newsgroup had enabled them to reveal their secrets to friends or family members.
[Science News, 17-Oct-98, top]

Internet Provider not Liable for Messages of Its Customers

Interested in law and computers? Without question this is definitely going to be growth industry (what with the Interent and Y2K ahead of us).
An appeals court in Florida has ruled against a woman who sued America Online because one of its customers, a convicted sex offender, used an AOL chat group to try to sell the woman's 11-year-old son a pornographic video. The court said that federal law protects online services from being held liable for the messages transmitted by their members sell the videotape of the boy. The defeated lawsuit, which is being appealed to the Supreme Court, tried to characterize America Online as "a home shopping network for pedophiles and child pornographers."
[AP/Washington Post, 15-Oct-98, top]

Most-Visited WEB Sites

I don't how much to trust this report because it doesn't include the CSC185 website...
According to the Media Matrix market research company, here are the most-visited Web sites (and number of visitors shown in millions) for August, the last month tabulated: AOL, 57.8; Yahoo, 27.3; Microsoft, 26.4; Netscape, 18.7; GeoCities, 16.7; Excite, 14.9; Infoseek, 12.3; Lycos, 11.8; AltaVista, 9.6; MSN, 9.0.
[Investor's Business Daily, 14-Oct-98, top]

Net Ban in Child Porn Case

A New York man who pleaded guilty in an online child pornography case will be banned from using the Internet for five see years [ see article from Wired News]. My question:  how is this sentence going to be enforced? 

Colors, Colors, and More Colors

Recall, there are two ways to specify color in a HTML page: using hexadecimal codes and using color names. Here is a list of the color names.

WaSP: The Web Standards Project

The Web Standards Project @ http://www.webstandards.org is an effort to make browser companies adhere to the standards being presented by the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium). We need to create web pages that are "browser independent."

NetAction: Checkout this Website

NetAction @ http://www.netaction.org is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public, policymakers, and the media about technology-based social and political issues.

Currently, there is a push to make more extensive use of the  .us  top-level domain country code; however, many commercial entities aren't happy with this domain's naming convention.

Visit NetAction and read their Public's Right to .us Domain action alert.

In addition, while you are there, checkout their Consumer Choice in Web Browsers: One Year Later survey results.

The RFC that discusses the .us domain can be found at http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1480.txt.


Hotmail Gives Out Passwords

A bug in the user interface of Hotmail, Microsoft's free web email provider has left 22 million active users vulnerable to a security breach. The so-called Trojan Horse lets malicious JavaScript programmers alter the Hotmail user interface and swipe user passwords. In this altered interface, any command the user makes yields a bogus Hotmail "time expired" message asking the user to reenter his or her user name and password.

Once these are entered, the user returns to the standard Hotmail site. But the user name and password are on their way to the malicious coder. The exploit takes advantage of the fact that Hotmail permits users to receive Javascript code in email messages.

The problem was brought to light by a programmer from Specialty Installations, a networking solutions reseller. He wanted to show how dangerous this situation could be if one didn't have some kind of Javascript filtering.

Though some free email providers, including Yahoo Mail, do filter out Javascript code from incoming messages, there was still a scramble among the free web mail providers to determine if their services were at a risk.

[from Telcomine (http://www.infozech.com/telcomine.htm), a monthly newsletter from Infozech, top]

Email: It May Come Back to Haunt You

We have learned that when you a send an email you need to be careful because what you say may come back to haunt you (and this is because email is "archivable" [i.e. it can be saved]). In a bit of legal news, the Justice Department has subpoena'd Microsoft's email in an effort to prove that Microsoft's business practices are monopolistic and predatory.

Internet Outranks Beer-Drinking in What's Cool on Campus

A survey of 1,200 students at 100 colleges and universities nationwide, conducted by research firm Student Monitor LLC, shows that when asked what was "in" on campus, 72.5% of the respondents answered "the Internet," whereas only 70.8% named "drinking beer." Up until now, beer-drinking has held the top spot since the biannual surveys began in 1988.
[Information Week, 31-Aug-98, top]

AOL Just Grows and Grows

Without even counting its CompuServe members or its membership beyond the U.S., the America Online membership figure now surpasses 13 million subscribers. Peak usage now is 750,000 users at a time (compared to 400,000 a year ago) and the current number of modems available is 800,000 (compared to 447,000 last year). Modem growth rate is 34% higher than the rate of membership increase.
[Investor's Business Daily 28-Aug-98, top]

IRC Strikes Again

In the 03-Sep-98 issue of the AZ Republic there was an article with the following headline: "Lewd Phone Calls Follow Computer Chat".

In a nutshell, a 44-year-old man is suspect by police of repeatedly making lewd phone calls to a 13-year-old girl after meeting her in an America Online computer chat room for teenagers. Police are not sure how the man got the girl's phone number. The police were able to find the man by obtaining information he used to  register  as "DeadHD1".
[05-Sep-98, top]

Berners-Lee Thinks WEB Has a Long Way To Go (AP 3 Sep 98)

[ A one page article by Berners-Lee about the WWW.]
Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in 1989 when he was a researcher at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, thinks the Web is still too complicated and inefficient:  "Users desperately need it to be simple. You need to walk up to any screen and treat it the same way as any other screen."  It's also not private enough, and not yet able to give people sufficient privacy guarantees that give them confidence in collaborating with others:  "I initially thought the Web would be used for collaborative purposes. It isn't."  

[AP, 03-Sep-98, top]

Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet Survey

More than one-third of Americans over 16 use the Internet, an increase of more than 18 million people in nine months. The study estimates the largest increases are by Blacks and Native Americans and by young adults and women over 50. Here are some stats from the study.

The Problem With Having Multiple Browsers

A group calling itself the Web Standards Project, a collective effort of developers and end users, says its mission is to stop the fragmentation of the World Wide Web, by persuading the browser makers that common standards are in everyone's best interest. Coalition member Glenn Davis says, "Web development costs are 25% greater than necessary because of all the different work-arounds we've got to build for different browsers."
[San Jose Mercury News, 08-Aug-98, top]

College Students Swell Ranks of Internet Addicted

An article appearing in the journal CyberPsychology and Behavior says that students between the ages of 18 and 22 are especially at risk for developing "Internet addiction," defined as "a psychological dependence on the Internet, regardless of type of activity once 'logged on.'" According to the article, administrators at Alfred University have noted a correlation between high Internet use and a high dropout rate among students, and a number of schools have set up support groups for Internet addiction. Meanwhile, the University of Washington is attempting to curb Internet overuse by limiting online time available to each student. Here's a picture.
[Chronicle of Higher Education 06-Feb-98, top]

Old Stuff

The National Medal of Technology was recently awarded to Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, inventors of the TCP/IP protocol.

From the "Chronicle of Higher Education" and "Edupage":

  • 30% of Internet users worried about privacy (up form 26%)
  • 24% concerned about censorship
  • 38% of 10,000 surveyed web users were women (up from 31%)
Author: G.D.Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Last Modified: Saturday, 05-Jan-2013 11:20:35 MST